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Rear Admiral William F. Fullam, Commander, Pacific Fleet Reserve Force, to Rear Admiral Leigh C. Palmer, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation





San Francisco, California,

25 March, 1917.


My dear Palmer:-

     I enclose for your eye copy of a circular letter just issued to my ships.1

     I am trying hard to arouse some military enthusiasm, and Heaven knows we need it.

     We are doing all we can to stimulate recruiting with baseball teams and the assistance of the enlisted men. The apathy of the people on this coast, however, is amazing.

     I fear you may have been irritated by my taking up the personnel with Operations. But, my dear Palmer, ships can’t “operate” without men, and I thought under the present organization of the Navy Department, and particularly at a time like this, that Operations would co-ordinate with Bureaus. For this reason I have sent nearly all of my official letter through Operations.

     I have worked very hard in my attempts to get these ships ready for war. My correspondence with the Department for a year and a half has shown one constant, never-ending struggle.2 Reviewing it now, I feel that I have deserved some credit, but I have received very little evidence that my work has been properly appreciated. Of course, I haven’t worked simply to win the Department’s approval, but rather from a sense of duty, and because I like to do things; and when I know I’m right I will insist on doing things in the face of every discouragement.

     I am well supported by the officers of the Reserve Force.

     Of course, we will have to work mighty hard to train our crews when mobilization takes place. We all welcome the job.

Sincerely Yours,

W. F. Fullam

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 4. Written on, “UNITED STATES PACIFIC FLEET/RESERVE FORCE/U. S. S. PUEBLO, FLAGSHIP,” stationary. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral L. C. Palmer,/U S. Navy, Chief of Bureau/of Navigation, Navy Department,/Washington, D.C.”

Footnote 1: Fullam was likely referring to his order of 24 March: “In event of orders to report availability or orders to mobilize Commander Reserve Force and Commander Torpedo Force will expedite in signal code to Commander-in-Chief [William F. Caperton] date of avila[b]ility of their forces that are in home waters. Vessels not belonging to above Forces and those in foreign waters including Hawaiian Islands will report direct to Commander-in-Chief in suitable code and simultaneously to own force commander should she have one. It is requested Commandants of navy yards report to Commander-in-Chief availability of vessels under sole control of Commandant including vessels in ordinary and those out of commission. Acknowledge." Fullam to Pacific Fleet, 24 March 1917, DLC-MSS, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 8.

Footnote 2: Fullam’s preparations for war date to October 1915, and include escalating training of apprentice seamen, enlisted men, and petty officers, and getting reserve vessels prepared for duty. For a full record of Fullam’s work before and during the war, see, “Historical Data and Narrative Concerning The preparation of the Pacific Reserve Fleet for war, and the Operations and work performed in the Pacific under the direction of Rear Admiral W.F. Fullam between December 15th, 1915, up to and including the peace with Germany,” DLC-MSS, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 8.

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